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Czechoslovakia

Ceskoslovenska Socialisticka Republika

Last modified: 2011-07-08 by andrew weeks
Keywords: czechoslovakia | czech republic | slovakia |
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[Flag of Czechoslovakia] image by Željko Heimer, 30 Mar 2003

See also:

Description and history

The flag of this design was adopted on 30 march 1920 and used until 1939. On 9 May 1948 the unitary Czechoslovakian Democratic People's Republic was proclaimed, on 11 July the Czech-Slovak Socialist Republic, becoming a federal republic on 1 January 1969. It finally became the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in 1990, and was dissolved 1 January 1993 when it was split into the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. At all these times it used the same flag, and the Czech Republic adopted it as their flag.
Mark Sensen 2 July 1996

The Constitution of 1990 set up the Czech Lands and Slovakia as two equal nations. Each was to have its own arms, seal, flag and anthem, and these were laid down in laws of 1990. The flag of the state was unchanged. As indicated before, the agreement was made by two countries upon separation not to adopt the previous state's emblems, but CZ adopted a flag with the blue triangle as the flag of CZ republic on 17 December 1992.
Željko Heimer, 1 Nov 1996

I've recently read Mark Sensen's review of the Czechoslovakian history in the FOTW. It is uncertain in some respects. The correct history is as follows:

1918 - Czechoslovakian State (republic de facto but not officially declared, unitary)
1918-1938 - Czechoslovakian Republic (unitary)
1938-1939 - Czecho-Slovakian Republic (federal, with autonomous Slovakia and Subcarpathian Russia, the latter renamed to Transcarpathian Ukraine and later Carpathian Ukraine, both in 1938) 1939 - dissolved into Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Slovak State (later Slovak Republic), and (Republic of?) Carpathian Ukraine 1945-1960 - Czechoslovak Republic*
(restored as unitary, in 1946 Transcarpathian Ukraine joined with the Ukraine, USSR) *note there was no "Czechoslovak People's Democratic Republic", only the Czechoslovak Republic was declared to be "people's democratic republic" without changing its name! 1960-1990 - Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (unitary to 1968, federal since 1969 with Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic) 1990 - Czechoslovak Federal Republic (in Czech language)/Czecho-Slovak Federal Republic (in Slovak language), federal with Czech Republic and Slovak Republic 1990-1992 - Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (federal, CR & SR) 1993 - dissolved into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic.

Another topic: so-called "Czechoslovakia 1920 flag" (with the blue triangle reaching one third of the flag) was only *proposal*, not accepted by the Parliament and never used. The white-red bicolor was substituted immediately by the present Czech WRB flag with the triangle reaching the center of the flag.
Jan Zrzavý, 27 May 2000

The blue "triangle" of the flag - is not a triangle, it is KLIN - a "wedge". This led to prolonged discussion post 1918 as to where on the flag the "wedge" should be placed. For instance placing the "wedge" on an opposite site to the mast (present day position) was considered but turned down as it would have "suggested that Slovakia was splintering the new Czechoslovakia" - First republic.
see this official government site.
Eugene Svoboda, 2 Jan 2002

Here is the law for the establishment of the Czechoslovakian flag in 1919: http://www.psp.cz/eknih/1918ns/ps/tisky/t1773_00.htm
The law from 1960 (CoA, flag, presidential standard): http://www.psp.cz/eknih/1960ns/tisky/t0024_00.htm
And also its version from 1990: http://www.psp.cz/eknih/1986fs/tisky/t0311_00.htm
Alex Danes, 22 Jun 2011


The Historical State Symbols of Czechoslovakia

<According to Czech law texts. (Sb. is for Sbírka" - the official Bulletin for Czechoslovak Acts. It means Collection. From 1999 "Sbírka zákonu" - the Collection of Acts.)> (comments by Aleš Křižan are between <...> - editor)

"Act. No.102/1990 Sb. Constitutional Act of 20. April, 1990 on  State symbols of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic

The Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic resolved on this law:

Art.I.
The state symbols of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic are the State Arms, the State flag, the Standard of the President of Republic, the State Seal and the State Anthem."

"Art. II.
(1) The State Arms of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic are made up of a quartered shield, in its first and fourth field is a silver double queued roaring jumping lion looking to the right, with golden claws, golden tongue put out and golden heraldic crown. In the second and third field is a silver double cross, erected on a middle increased top of a blue triple-hill. The quartering of the shield is marked by a silver line.
(2) ..."

<This is not a blazon but a normal description. Note: in Czech there is no proper term for the position of an animal, blazoned as "Lion rampant". We either say only "Lion" with no further notices  about its position,  or we translate it as "Lion jumping."  or "Lion in a jump".>

"Art.IV.
(1) The Flag and (!) the Standard of the President of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic is white with a bordure, compound  from flames alternate of white, red and  blue. In the center of a white field are placed the State arms of the Czech and Slovak Federal  Republik made of fabric. Below is a red scroll with silver legend "VERITAS VINCIT". On both ends of scroll are golden linden branches with two leaves each. The Standard of the President is square shaped.
(2) ..."
<To my surprise the law spoke on Flag AND Standard, although there was no other President's Flag seen than the square one.>

"Cl.V.
(1) The State Seal of the Czech and Slovak Republic is made up of the State Arms with linden branches on (both) sides, around it is a circular inscription of the state name in Czech and in Slovak.
(2) ...."

<The Czech and Slovak versions of inscription are very similar: "Ceská a Slovenská Federativní Republika" in Czech, "Ceská a Slovenská Federatívna Republika". The similarity of both languages was the reason for use of Latin in the Standard. Slovaks in Parliament wanted first bilingual Croll (PRAVDA VÍTEZÍ / PRAVDA VITAZÍ). But some Members of Parliament thought that that would be ridiculous.>

<The description of Socialist Arms (Act. No. 163/1963 Sb.., paragraph 1) was much worse:>
„ § 1
The State Coat of Arms
(1) The State Coat of Arms of Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is ... a red shield shaped as a Hussite "Pavese" (infantry Shield) with star of five points in upper part, on which ( i.e. on that shield) is a white double-tailed lion, bearing on its breast red escutcheon with blue silhouette of Mount Kriván and a bonfire of gold. The drawing of the arms is golden
(Art. 110. Section 1 of Constitution)."

<Alternatively: in a Hussite shield, Gules a lion queue fourche argent beneath a star of five points voided or, on its breast an escutcheon bearing gules, on a mountain azure a flame or. The star represented Communism , the escutcheon was meant to replace the arms of Slovakia. Notes: crown of the Bohemian lion was eliminated and these Czech and Slovak symbols were never used separately (in Czech Socialist Rep. and in Slovak SR between 1969 - 90).

In the time of November Revolution the fact, that this symbol  was disliked, caused a joke I've seen on hand made posters among others in the streets of our towns. It was the picture of a crying lion with star in its paw. He (or it?) was saying: „Give me back the crown. On this star is a deposit."  Our groceries still has the duty to buy back most bottles, and the deposit for one beer bottle was exactly 1 Crown. In the past one could go to the prison for such  jokes. The caricaturist Miroslav Lidák ("Hadák") drew in early sixties (or in early seventies, I'm not sure) a caricature of the presidents Standard. There was double-tailed Good Soldier Schweik with lion-paws on it, and the motto was "To chce klid" (Take it easy). He was charged with offence of state.>

"§ 3
The Standard of the President of the Republic
"(1) The Standard of the President of the Republic is white, with bordure of white, blue and red small fields: In its centre are the State Arms, by sides with linden branches (golden). Under the State Arms is a motto "PRAVDA VITEZI" on a red scroll. The letters of the motto are of gold"

<In fact: the angles were red and the other blue and red small fields were placed on white background.>

The symbols of Czechoslovakia until 1960, when the Socialism was proclaimed (Act. No. 252/1920 Coll. Of Acts and Statutes): The Small, Middle and Great State Arms, The State Flag, The Presidents Standard and The Great and Small State Seal.

The Small State Arms was (§ 4): Gules Lion rampant Argent towards to the dexter side, with mouth wide open and with Tongue put out, also armed and "diademed" Or, bearing on its Breast an Eschutcheon Gules, charged with three Hills Azure. On the middle higher Hill is erected a Double-Cross Argent .

<Notes: The word "Diademe" replaced the word "Crown", because this expression was interpreted to be "too monarchistic". The placement of the Slovak symbol on Lions breast is now considered (so said for example Heraldist Milan Buben) as a mistake. "One could think," he says, "that the Kingdom Of Bohemia is ruled by a Slovak dynasty!"

The Standard has flamy triangles on its bordure again. This is surprisingly an allusion of old Imperial standards. They also had this kind of decoration. The colours white, red and blue  were (and still are) the only right order of our State Colours - the Tricolour. These are one of official State symbols. This is the main reason of use this Tricolour  as a Protectorate Flag, designed by Dr. K. Schwarzenberg.>

 The medium arms were: Quarterly Slovakia, Ruthenia (per pale, Azure three Bars Or, and Argent a bear rampant gules), Moravia (Azure, an Eagle displayed chequy gules and argent, crowned (beaked and membered or), escutcheon and Silesia (Or, an Eagle displayed Sable crowned of the first (armed and membered gules), on its breast a Crescent trefoiled with a crosslet argent the middle (i.e. surmounted by a Crosslet. Alternatively, a crosslet on a Kleestengel argent). ), en surtout Bohemia. For Ruthenia (annexed by the Soviet Union in forties, finally ceded to USSR in 1945 and now a part of Ukraine), a coat of arms was designed, evoking Ukraine and Russia. These arms are still used as ethnic symbols by the Rusyns (Ruthenes) and in the year 1990 it was confirmed as an Symbol  of Zakarpatska Oblast of Ukraine.

The grand arms were: Quarterly of seven, in rows of 2, 2 and 3: Slovakia, Ruthenia, Moravia, Silesia, Tesin, Opava and Ratibor, en surtout Bohemia. The arms of Tesin were Azure an Eagle Or, Opava was per pale Gules and Argent and Ratibor was per Azure an Eagle Or, and per pale Argent and Gules. The supporters were two Bohemian Lions Or standing on Linden Branches Or. The motto, taken from the 15th c. Hussite king George of Podebrady, was "Pravda vitezi" (Truth prevails) - Azure on a Scroll Or.

<The so called "Ratibor" is known as Hlučínsko (Hlucin Country, Hultschiner Land). It was till the year 1920 (Treaty of Versailles) a part of Prussia, i.e. Germany, not of Austrian Silesia) Hlučínsko is the southern part of Duchy of Ratibor, Upper Silesia. Following this logic could be there also the arms of Lower Austria, because in the same time the territory of Valtice (Feldsberg - 5 communities) was made a part of South Moravia (Now Brnenský kraj, Okres Breclav). (other source : www.heraldica.org)>
Aleš Křižan, 4 Dec 2000


Monument in Prague

A monument in the form of the tattered national flag stands in Kralov Square, Prague (CZ). Inaugurated in May 2006, it is the work of Vladimír Preclík whose project was selected over controversial David Černý's (who, incidentally, also favoured a flag theme). Photos of this monument commemorating Czech resistance against Nazi aggression 1938-1945:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/internationalphotos/2564416845/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/t4to_/5153692589/
http://www.dreamstime.com/war-memorial-prague-image16237847
http://www.pbase.com/alpiner/image/110622915
Army ceremony near the monument:
http://www.army.cz/en/ministry-of-defence/newsroom/news/65th-anniversary--40475/
Further information, introducing Vladimír Preclík and concerning the initial controversy (in German):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladim%C3%ADr_Precl%C3%ADk
http://www.radio.cz/de/rubrik/tagesecho/fliegende-pershing-widerstandskaempfer-bekommen-umstrittenes-denkmal
Although not a monument honouring a flag as such, I feel its conclusion in this little series is warranted if only on formal grounds.
Jan Martens, 2 Jun 2011